Zubair Faisal Abbasi
International development organizations recently conveyed us a message that government in Pakistan is untrustworthy and therefore humanitarian aid in desirable quantity is hard to arrange. Many of us accepted the argument and starting divulging additional reasons on international donors being right in avoiding a direly needed bout of foreign assistance. We should try to be critical about such claims which primarily blame the victim.
Let us say, you call us untrustworthy and therefore you refuse to pour money into our kitty so that we fight against the unprecedented calamity on our own. You call our state institutions untrustworthy slipping into the coffin of a failed state. You call us untrustworthy because we got a ‘bigger cheque’ from the USA and refused the Communists. Had we accepted the smaller cheque and fought the imposed war against you then what we were supposed to be? Traitors? But we accepted the cheque and remained trustworthy till the time cheap gun fodder was needed. The transaction was simple and persuasive. We, the untrustworthy, joined the most ‘truthful’ arrangements like SEATO/CENTO and remained most aligned nation outside the NATO and fought as frontline state – we remained trustworthy. Now once the war-machine appears to be tired, exhausted, and needs oiling then we become untrustworthy, corrupt, and extortionists. In fact, we were trustworthy for the expansion of military-industrial complex and now when we need humanitarian assistance we are untrustworthy. Continue reading
Nadeem ul Haque, a senior, respected economist has some insightful remarks to make about the state of policy research institutions in Pakistan
For 5 years the position of the Chief Economist of the Planning Commission has been vacant. The PIDE Director/Vice Chancellor has served in an “acting” capacity! Why “acting?” And how do you keep someone in an “acting” position for years? Is that good governance?
Every few months the government runs expensive ads (the most recent is produced below). They seem to be content with placing the ad! There is no serious effort then made to fill the position.
This is not the only position this has happened with. The SECP position too was left vacant for many months on a number of occasions.
The government seems to find it very hard to find professional economists. Why is this so? I would welcome your views on this subject!
I would like to point out that very few senior positions are filled by the mere placement of an ad! Often this is a matter for a search committee and serious effort by several competent people to seek an ideal candidate and persuade him or her to accept the proposed position. Since the government is unwilling to form such a search committee and seek out serious people, perhaps it should stop wasting tax-payer’s money on such ads! (Even when they form a search committee they will pick on the most well known establishment figures who in turn will find a very well known non-professional or a house-broken professional who will not rock the boat.) No wonder the government seems to have no fresh thinking.
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EDITORIAL (February 15 2010): It is good to know that some concrete measures would be taken soon to improve the health of Public Sector Enterprises (PSEs) in order to reduce burden on the budget. According to the latest reports, the Cabinet Committee on Restructuring (CCoR) has finalised a roadmap for the turnaround of eight loss-making public sector entities, focusing in particular on replacing their managements with professionals from the private sector.
Talking to a newspaper, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin revealed that the Committee would replace the existing managements of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) with others within two weeks after approval of the plan by the Prime Minister. New and vibrant boards were also needed for corporate restructuring of Pakistan Railways, Pepco, NHA, USC, TCP and Passco.
These eight entities were incurring annual losses of about Rs 200 billion and Ministry of Finance had always been advocating for structural changes in the management of these PSEs to make them profitable. Tarin deplored that weak governance, susceptibility to outside influence and implicit guarantees by the government were the major reasons behind these entities’ under-performance.
Raza Rumi responds to the new education policy for Pakistan
Yet another educational policy has been announced for Pakistan and its hapless citizens. We should not cast aspersions on the motives of an elected government, for we have been bitten by endless rounds of authoritarian rule which have not only destroyed the institutions of civilian governance, but have also demolished the integrity of our curriculum and mode of instruction. Decade after decade, dictators chose to glorify martial rule and later legitimized the abuse of jihad and violence. Even those who have studied at elite, expensive schools have somehow been doctored by the same curse of malicious textbooks. The surreal curricula have glorified looters and plunderers like Mahmud Ghaznavi only because they happened to be Muslims by a sheer coincidence of birth. Not to mention the Hindus, with whom we have coexisted for nearly a thousand years; they have been painted as treacherous, villainous and vile creatures ready to destroy the Muslims.
One would have expected that a legitimately elected government, representing the aspirations and pluralism of Pakistan’s small provinces would take a strong stance on the revision of pernicious curricula. Alas, this is now a distant, buried dream for all. The policy is silent on that. This is a government that is waging wars on terrorism rather successfully and with clarity of purpose, but the educational policy makes little mention of the madrassa reform which is now an imperative for the very survival of Pakistan as a viable state. Thousands of madrassas scattered all over the place, funded by external powers preach hatred, bigotry and a reversion to the Dark Ages. Who will reform these madrassas if the national education policy does not even bother to lay out a strategy and provide resources? The new policy promises that by 2015, the budgetary allocation for education would increase to seven percent of the GDP from the current 2.1 percent of the GDP. This is surely promising but how can a policy not envision the need or the strategy to mobilize such resources? Have we not heard such sanguine proclamations in the past?
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A looming threat from Al Qaeda & the Taliban militia and an in-flux of Afghan refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) has left Pakistan in a worst refugee crisis since the partition in 1947. US led drone strikes and Pakistan military’s onslaught against the Talibans has crippled a great mass of Afghan and Pakistani civilians. Why do states always carry out post-mortem reports on innocent war causalities, instead of ensuring civilians’ security prior to the Continue reading